Mayor Hancock, Shawn DeBerry Johnson, Elder Thomas T. Priday, and project lead Craig McIlroy present charity recipients from 2019 Giving Machines with checks.

The excitement of the holiday Giving Machines continued Thursday as five local charities gathered in Denver Mayor Hancock’s office. Those in attendance were all smiles – with good reason. In Denver’s inaugural year the Giving Machines surpassed all expectations. Denver area helped raise more than $750K for charitable organizations – and Thursday was the payday. If there was one theme word of the day, it was huge. The checks were huge, the payments were huge, and, best of all – the impact for those in need is huge.

Two volunteers from Catholic Charities pose with NBA Super Mascot Rocky

Catholic Charities’ Director of Communications and Marketing, Cheryl Talley, reported how excited they were to be part of the Giving Machines. Citing the 3,000 meals that were donated to the women they serve, “this is more than a meal. This provides more than nourishment. It provides hope, and a pathway. This is a huge, huge improvement for the lives of women here in Denver.” Other gift options available through the machines means hundred of families Catholic Charities serve will receive 10 days’ worth of groceries, a years worth of diapers, and thousands more blankets will be provided. They can even provide many with a mattresses and bedding. Their total donation received was $89,126.

A sample social media teaser for BCDI shows how easy it is to give a huge gift.

Black Child Development Institute- Denver, received more than 2,000 donations, making their total gift $68,398. That translates into thousands of books for children, hundreds of STEAM kits, fresh produce for thousands of children, and many, many children who can now attend early literacy boot camps. Cassandra Johnson, Denver Affiliate President, shared appreciation for their most popular gift- a 20-book at home “starter library,” which means “children will have increased literacy skills” and put on the path to better educational opportunities.

Linda Loflin-Pettit, Chair of the Board of Directors for The Rose Andom Center illustrated the huge impact their gift makes. Both research and anecdotal experience show that women facing domestic violence have large transportation obstacles to overcome, both in fleeing abuse and in traveling to centers of support. Thanks to the 2,500 bus passes given at the machines, Loflin-Pettit is convinced that lives will be saved. The Rose Andom Center, Denver’s first one-stop center for survivors of domestic violence received $56,479. Other gifts given included hundreds of personal care items and toys for children’s waiting rooms, well-woman exams, and counseling and legal advocacy for abuse victims.

A child smiles in front of the Giving Machines. Donations options for Mile High Ministries and the Rose Andom Center show behind him.

Mile High Ministries received $60,448. Their services can now provide thousands more meals, hundreds of hours of tutoring and adult education classes, and months of nights of safe shelter for families who need support. What did they have to say about this support? “We are enormously grateful,” reports Jeff Johnsen, Executive Director.

Though six charities were recipients of the Giving Machines, there may have been one or two whose items for sale were most talked about. After all, how often do you get to buy a piglet from a vending machine? Church World Services, one of the two global charities, was definitely a draw with its unique options like chicken and sheep. Over 3,500 visitors chose to buy chickens. Yet, all benefitted from the machines’ universal appeal. In their 6 weeks at Writer Square, the Denver Giving Machines saw more than 9,000 transactions from its visitors, donating more than 25,000 items.

The Jaussi family stops to Light the World through a gift at the Giving Machines.

Denver-based Water for People, the other global charity, had unique attractions of their own. Their top seller, the tiger-worm toilet, was donated 1,169 times. Chad Arthur, Chief Development Officer of Water for People, explained that tiger worms help prevent the spread of disease through the latrine system. “This will make a huge impact.” Other gift options means 500 wells and 900+ hand pumps will be given from this year’s donations, not to mention the very thing we take for granted – hand soap. Water for People received more than $200,146 from Denver’s giving.

Operating costs and credit card fees for the Giving Machines were covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church also covers a portion of administrative fees. Thursdays’ checks included the total donation from Denver Metro residents, and funds from The Church of Jesus Christ.

A donor buys a tiger-worm toilet for Water for People through the Giving Machines.

Though forecast to have modest success, Denver Area made its own way with the theme of “huge” and raised $753,069. Such success is sure to grow. Denver is set to host the Giving Machines in 2020, and we’ll see just how much bigger the impact can get. Look for their return to Writer Square from November 23, 2020 – January 4, 2021.

The Light the World campaign is an annual Christmas campaign designed to share love and service to everyone around.


Union Station shines bright for the Grand Illumination

In the time of year where family traditions and activities are central- you might be on the hunt for quality family fun. Denver offers many answers. Since the costs of fun and holidays can add up quickly, we offer five solutions that are friendly on your wallet. 

These tips are for everyone looking to enjoy family time together in Denver, and do it at low cost. It is possible to do both!

1. Start at the Giving Machines in Writer Square. On this day of fun and -mostly free activities- start off by thinking of those in need. After all, when was the last time your $3 at a vending machine bought meals for those at a shelter? Or you gave chickens for Christmas? With 5 local and 1 global charity benefitting from the machines, don’t miss Denver’s first year as host to the Light the World Giving Machines! Visit GivingMachinesDenver.com for more information.

A family makes their selection at the Giving Machines

2. Visit Santa Claus at Larimer Square. After you’ve been the giver of gifts, visit one of the most famous gift givers – Santa Claus! Here’s a chance to visit St. Nick, and enjoy the surroundings in Larimer Square while you’re at it! Photos are free – please just bring your own camera. Santa visits every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Click for more info. 

Children share their Christmas wishes with Santa on the Square

3. Travel “abroad” with a visit to the Christkindl Market. For a taste of the variety of ways holidays are celebrated, enjoy the Christkindl Market. Entry is free, and just a stroll through the many shops provides an eyeful of wonder and delight. Handmade gifts represent makers from many countries. Take your visit to the next level with an authentic German pretzel. Yum! Check further details at their website.

A scene from last year’s Christkindl Market. Photo courtesy: Denver Christkindl.

4. Go Ice skating at Skyline Park. Perhaps you’re ready to add some speed to your holiday tour. If you own your own ice skates, this activity is totally free. For those needing to rent – skate rentals are $7 for kids and $9 for adults. Hot tip for 4th graders : Free skating and rentals are provided to ALL Colorado 4th graders ALL Season long! See their website for more hours and information. 

Downtown Denver Ice Rink (Photo by Jack Dempsey)

5. Make a visit to the Mile High Tree. Wrap up your day with the sounds of the symphony, and the wonder of the Mile High tree. All events here are free! See a Christmas tree unparalleled by anything you’ve seen before. This 110 foot tall, immersive art installation can host up to 140 guests at a time, for a viewing experience from within the tree itself! Enjoy two different shows, rotating every 15 minutes. Open from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Click for more info.

The view from inside the Mile High Tree